July 15, 2020
  • Redwood City – San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow has issued a new order, allowing limited outdoor visits and necessary indoor visits at long-term care facilities. The directive enables facilities to allow outdoor visits, according to certain preconditions and with safety measures in place, by family members, friends, and those making legal decisions on behalf of residents of nursing homes and other congregate care facilities. The order also provides for indoor visitation for compassionate care, for urgent health, legal, or other issues, including end of life.

    The full text of the order is available here.

    Regardless of whether they plan to allow visitation, all residential care facilities must adhere to the order’s COVID-19 plan and follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The plan requires daily screening of residents and staff for COVID-19 symptoms, including temperature checks, and provisions for hygiene supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), among other measures.

    Facilities that wish to allow limited outdoor visits must first certify in writing to County Public Health that they have adequate access to COVID-19 testing and have implemented Public Health’s “COVID-19 Mass Testing Strategy,” are not experiencing staff shortages, and maintain adequate supplies of PPE and essential cleaning supplies to care for residents. Facilities must also have recorded no new positive COVID-19 cases among staff or residents for at least two sequential rounds of surveillance testing.

    Facilities may not allow outdoor visits for any time period in which they are not in compliance with these preconditions.

    Scheduled in advance and in a designated area with sufficient space for social distancing, outdoor visits are limited to no more than two adults and one resident per visit (but cohabitating

    residents may participate in the same visit together). Visitors must be family members and/or designated support persons, such as close friends or clergy/spiritual advisors or persons whose visit is required by urgent health or legal matters, such as conservators and agents under health care powers of attorney. Hired service providers such as hair stylists are not permitted.

    Residents and staff supervising the visit must wear surgical masks. Visitors must wear face coverings and follow social distancing measures. Staff must supply hand sanitizer and are recommended to provide a face mask/face shield combination to every person present at the visit to further minimize risk of transmission.

    For necessary indoor and compassionate care visits, the order outlines the safety measures, including PPE requirements, for supervising staff and visitors if a resident is positive or presumed positive for COVID-19.

    Facilities have the discretion to set policies for indoor and indoor visits, including those for compassionate care, according to staffing conditions, health risk to residents and visitors, and other factors.

    All visitors except first responders are required to be screened and logged. The order does not restrict state or federal regulators, officers, investigators, or medical or law enforcement personnel from carrying out their duties at facilities.

    The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. on July 15, 2020.

    Health Officer orders and statements are found at the San Mateo County Health website:


    Information about San Mateo County’s response to COVID-19 is at www.smcgov.org.